There's an old saying, attributed to many people, that life is what happens to us while we're busy making other plans. The message is to be sure to enjoy the moment that exists rather than always looking ahead to something that might never be. I think that challenge to live in the moment can be tougher in today’s digital age, where change happens so quickly, information is instantaneous, and society is so accustomed to instant gratification.
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Even cattlemen -- who often live and work in remote locations -- aren’t immune to the hustle and bustle of busy days, and are challenged by the pressures of constant connectivity and information overload. Whether it’s planning for future dreams, feeding cattle, mending that fence, record-keeping, going to sales, checking the markets online, attending kids’ activities, paying bills, or working around the house, there’s always something to be done, and there’s still only 24 hours in a day to get it all accomplished.
It’s no wonder folks are stressed, frazzled and pining for some down time. You don’t have to leave the ranch to get a break from it all, though. Steve Gilliland, a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and author of the book, “Enjoy The Ride,” offers these four considerations to help you embrace the moment.
1. Don’t live your life 30 minutes ahead of the present.
“If you won’t live your life now, in the present, then who will?” asks Gilliland. “An older man came up to me, grabbed my hand, and said he wished he’d heard me speak decades ago. After I asked why, he said that when he was eating lunch on break or dinner with his family, he was always thinking about what he had to do after the meal, which represented his daily life. ‘At the age of 97,’ he said, ‘I’ve officially lived my life 30 minutes ahead’ – 30 minutes ahead of whatever he was doing at the moment.”
2. Laugh more!
“It’s better than crying before you’re hurt,” says Gilliland. “Don’t put your umbrella up until it rains. Worry restricts your ability to think and act effectively, and it forces you to mortgage fear and anxiety about something that may never occur. Laughter is the opposite. When you laugh, you’re living almost completely in the moment, and it’s one of the best feelings you can have.”
3. No one can ruin your day without your permission.
Gilliland writes, “As much as we cannot control in life – our genes, our past and what has led up to today – there is much control we may take upon ourselves. Today, for example, we can understand that life picks on everyone, so when the going gets tough, we don’t have to take it personally. When we do take misfortune personally, we tend to obsess, giving a legacy to something that may make you a day poorer in life.”
4. Cure your destination disease.
Finally, Gilliland says we need to learn to live in the moment.
“Live more for today, less for tomorrow, and never about yesterday,” he says. “How? You might have to repeatedly remind yourself that yesterday is gone forever, yet we perpetually have to deal with now, so why not live it? And what if tomorrow never occurs? There is a difference between working toward the future, which is inherently enjoyable in light of hope, and living in an unrealistic future that remains perpetually elusive. If tomorrow never comes, would you be satisfied with the way today ended? It is not how you start in life and it is not how you finish. The true joy of life is in the trip, so enjoy the ride!”
This advice is applicable whether you’re 10 or 100, and I know I’ll be sharing this with my husband, who often sits up at night worrying if he shut the cattle gate or remembered to pay the electric bill. It’s also a good reminder to all of us to disconnect from our phones, TVs, and computers once in a while and truly enjoy the company we are with.
To Gilliland’s advice, I’d add one more. The Good Book teaches us to forgive others and to love our neighbor, but I think that just as important is to be willing to forgive ourselves. Too many of us spend time whipping ourselves over past mistakes or missteps. The truth is that we all make mistakes and we’ve all done bone-headed things, but those experiences opened our eyes and hopefully made up better people. Accept that you made the mistake and move on resolving to do better.
What words of wisdom would you add to these four considerations for embracing life in the moment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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